Cebuano legend Mac Tallo sat down with Dribble Media’s ZerJosh Serrano to talk about his disappearance from the PBA landscape, along with the inside story on how he was named to the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 team.
Mac Tallo was one of the most talented high school prospects in Filipino basketball history. Hailing from Cebu, Mac’s name already reached Manila even before he got there in 2011. That was how hyped-up his name was as an up-and-coming college star.
But Mac had to earn every drop of fame and popularity that came his way. When he was still starting out as a high school prospect, he admitted that he was fortunate that the Cebu Institute of Technology, the sixth school he tried out for, gave him an opportunity to showcase his skills.
So how did Mac repay the trust that CIT had for him?
BY WINNING. Simple as that.
Mac’s basketball career didn’t start when he first stepped into high school. It started years and years before that.
Growing up, he always had the guidance of his father right from the very start. Not everyone knows this, but his father, Mark Tallo, once played in the PBA by donning the Pepsi uniform. Having a PBA player as your father will always come with an added pressure, but Mac knows that Mark always wanted what’s best for his son.
Even during Mac’s high school stint for CIT in the Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation, Inc. (CESAFI), his father already had lofty plans set for his son. Their strategy was for Mac to dominate his competition in Cebu so that his name will be made known in all four corners of the country.
That plan worked. The storied Ateneo De Manila University Blue Eagles came calling, and Mac was soon headed to the nation’s capital in 2011.
“Sa umpisa pa lang, lumipat na kayo ng Manila.”
There’s no doubt that Mac was also one of the greatest what-ifs in UAAP history. After his illustrious juniors career in CESAFI, Mac took his talents to the UAAP to don the blue-and-white threads of Ateneo.
Mac joined a powerhouse Ateneo squad that already had nationally-ranked prospects like Kiefer Ravena, Greg Slaughter, Gwyne Capacio, Justin Chua and Nico Salva on their roster. A championship was already on the horizon, and it’s just a matter of time before this extremely-talented Blue Eagles reach their destination.
But things didn’t work out as Mac never got used to the system that then-Ateneo head coach Norman Black had integrated. Mac then left Katipunan to transfer to Taft, where he played only a few games for the De La Salle University Green Archers before calling it quits in Manila. He went back home to Cebu soon after.
If Mac had to name one regret in his career, it would be that he didn’t go to Manila sooner than he did in the past. That’s why his advice for aspiring basketball players in the province is to come to Manila at an early age, acquire experience in the countless tournaments here, and get used to a system-based type of basketball.
Playing for Coach Yeng Guiao in the PBA
Mac had to endure a road of many ups and downs, but he eventually achieved his dream of playing in the PBA. He suited up for the NLEX Road Warriors, and played for Yeng Guiao, who as we all know, is one of the most polarizing figures in Philippine basketball.
Fans would always see the fiery side of Coach Yeng during games, but he is the exact opposite during NLEX’s practices. Mac revealed that Coach Yeng is very lenient in practice, but players should not mistake that for a weakness. Coach Yeng knows everything that each player is doing in practice.
Coach Yeng has undoubtedly established himself as one of the most successful coaches in PBA history. He has also built a reputation of not holding back some choice words for the referees and also to his players.
But Mac says that it’s just his way of motivating his players. Coach Yeng is as fair as a coach can be in terms of handling his team.
So why is Mac not in the PBA anymore?
With NLEX reeling from the suspension of Kiefer Ravena and the ACL injury of Kevin Alas, the team turned to its less-heralded backcourt stalwarts. Mac was given a consistent spot in Coach Yeng’s rotation, and he surely made the most out of it. It was a display of an all-around brilliance for the Cebuano guard, and it seemed like he was finally living up to his potential.
Yet, Mac is not in the PBA anymore. Mac revealed two reasons why he thinks his PBA career spiralled downward.
Inside story on how Mac got into the Chooks-to-Go 3x3 line-up
After his abrupt disappearance from the PBA landscape, Mac played in the Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League (MPBL). But Mac quickly regained national attention when he was named to the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 squad that participated in the 2021 FIBA 3X3 World Tour Doha Masters.
How exactly did Mac get into the 3×3 game? Mac says that he was playing in private basketball runs last December when he realized that Coach Aldin Ayo was watching the games. Coach Aldin, one of the most successful collegiate coaches in the past decade, was tasked to lead the Chooks-to-Go 3×3 team.
It was purely God’s plan, Mac says. The 3×3 team was on the last day of their practice that month when it came to happen that Mac’s private run games were held on the same venue.
Now that he is quickly regaining attention and fame as a 3×3 player, is a return to the PBA still part of Mac’s future?
As for his advice to young basketball aspirants out there, Mac says that your commitment to the sport will be the biggest factor in your potential success.
Bet on yourself, Mac says.